An appeals court has upheld the tax fraud conviction against ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi and sentenced him to four years in prison.

But the former Italian leader could appeal this verdict to a higher court, the Court of Cassation.

In October, a court convicted Berlusconi in a scheme that involved inflating the price his Mediaset media empire paid for TV rights to U.S. movies and pocketing the difference. Berlusconi denied the charges and says he's a victim of politically motivated prosecutors.

That verdict was upheld Wednesday by the appeals court in Milan.

The lower court, which began hearing the case in 2006, also said Berlusconi could not hold public office for five years or manage any company for three years, penalties that would take force only if the conviction is upheld on two levels of appeal.